Our fourth boy was walking across a muddy paddock one day last week when he looked down and saw a coin on top of the ground. He brought it in the house to show me. It was so corroded we couldn’t see what it was, so he dropped it in a cup of kombucha to try cleaning it up. He’s changed the kombucha every day, and every day it has gotten a little cleaner. This morning, he was looking at it and realized he could see words! I looked closely, and after studying it awhile figured out that it was a half penny from 1915! It has a picture of George V on one side, and a Greek god on the other. The lettering around George V’s picture is Latin. He was pretty tickled to have found something so old. I thought it was fun to finally see a half penny–something I’ve heard of but never seen before. It’s about the diameter of an American quarter, but half as thick.
Friday we needed to pick up 100 day-old chicks in Christchurch, from a hatchery farther south. Since it was a birthday in our family, we decided to make it a family day and go to the zoo on the outskirts of Christchurch, Orana Wildlife Park. We had never gone, because it is very expensive, but decided to splurge this once. It turns out to be a very fun zoo to visit! It isn’t very big; nothing compared to some zoos we’ve been in in America as far as number of animals; but the experience was special. They have feedings scheduled through the afternoon, and organized quite well so you go from one species to another, around the zoo. For an extra $35 per person, we could have ridden in the truck from which they feed the lions! We did get to feed the giraffes; that was free, and quite fun. An older man, a volunteer, went around the route, and he seemed to really enjoy telling us more about the animals and the feeding. One really good thing about this is how active the animals are, compared to most zoos. For example, the lions–practically every zoo I’ve been to before, the lions just laid around, but here, they were running, and jumping.
Whew! Another month has gone by, in a hurry! It’s already been two weeks since I posted. Here are a few pictures, just to give you a tiny glimpse into our lives.
We’ve had 28 chicks hatch over the past week–so cute!
Short Stuff learned this week to make vehicle noises, and one afternoon he pretended that a nail was a key and he was starting himself up with it! The first time, he started himself, then raced across the room.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id5_wrOxJxY&w=420&h=315]
He also practiced standing on his head this week.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THcwyJ0PWA0&w=420&h=315]
I posted this one a couple of weeks ago, but the post has totally disappeared. I read aloud a lot to the children, and record some books onto an mp3 player so they can listen to them again later, and one afternoon this little fellow did the same![youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnlSakneSHI&w=420&h=315]
We’ve had quite an interesting week! Monday and Tuesday were normal days, but Tuesday night when we went to bed there was a strong wind blowing and I saw online that a violent storm was making its way north up the island towards us. Soon after we went to bed, apparently about 11:00, the power went out–and didn’t come back on for over 42 hours! Towards morning, we started having thunder and lightning, and when it was light enough to see we saw a number of branches down around the place. There was no power where Gayle works, either, so after he went in to see if there was anything he could do with the power out, he came home again to start cleaning up the mess around here. The boys really enjoyed working with their daddy on that kind of job! I spent the day working on the mending pile. Of course, without electricity, I couldn’t use the sewing machine, so I just pinned on patches and did some hand sewing. The entire mending pile is now waiting for me to sit down at the sewing machine–I should be able to whip right through once I get there. Esther spent the day reading and writing, but it was rather frustrating because the day was so dark and cloudy. We don’t realize how reliant we are on electricity till we don’t have it anymore. We were very thankful for the gas grill we had been given, enabling us to at least cook, and for the fact that we have chest freezers rather than upright ones. I moved all the things from the fridge freezers to the chest freezers, and we opened them as little as possible. I also fed the fresh milk to the calves, since we had no way to chill it. The milk that was already in the one fridge stayed fresh, since I had turned the temperature way down a couple of days earlier and forgot to turn it back up–the milk froze in it! That was a blessing in disguise! We used up the food that would go bad in the other fridge, but mostly we had milk products in there which are all right even if they warm up.
That evening we had a very interesting experience. About an hour before dark, a car pulled up at the driveway. There were four people in it, three men and one woman, French tourists in the country for nine months. They are trying to see the country in the least expensive way, and were asking for a place to set up their tents for the night! We gave them permission to camp in our yard, and invited them in for supper. I put together a stew for supper, using potatoes and cooked beef from the fridge, a couple of jars of tomatoes and one of carrots, and a leek that Simon brought in. Soon after I put it on the grill to cook, I realized that the flame was lower than it had been. Sure enough, the flame went out after awhile, but the stew was hot enough to eat. The leeks were just a bit crunchy, still! We had a fun evening chatting with our surprise guests by the light from headlamps placed strategically around the top of the room, and candles on the table. They said several times how good the meal was (stew, cabbage salad, bread and butter, and homemade cheese). I didn’t think it was that extraordinary, but then Gayle asked them what they’ve been eating: Ramen noodles! No wonder they enjoyed what we offered!
That night the wind came up again, and by morning was blowing at gale force again. We still had no power, but at 6:30 Gayle called in to work and learned that they had a generator, so he went in. I went to town as soon as the shop opened to get a new cylinder of gas so we could cook breakfast! Our French visitors left about the same time Gayle left for work–I was relieved, as they had pitched their tents close to a big gum tree, which was swaying their way in the strong wind. It didn’t fall, but if it had it would have crushed them.
The second day, the sun shone and it was bright–what a nice change. We still had no power all day, and I was preparing myself mentally for another dark evening of cooking over the grill outside, and planning a breakfast and lunch for the next day that would not require cooking or washing dishes. Then, praise God, the power came back on at 5:35! What a wonderful sight. Life is now back to normal for us, and we didn’t lose any more than a cup or two of food. The boys were quite disappointed; they like playing with candles. One of them was saving all the extra wax that ran off the candles, and melted it down, making another candle from it.
We were also glad be be back in touch with the rest of the world, although it was very peaceful and quiet during the power cut! We had no internet, of course, and the cell service was also out. Our landline worked the first day, but the second day it didn’t.
We had an interesting experience the week before, also. We had helped to organize a meeting here in Cheviot with a speaker from Creation Ministries International. We had a barbeque before the meeting; about 50 people came for that, and there were probably about 75 at the meeting itself. That was very good, but we also really enjoyed having the speaker, Tas Walker, and his driver in our home for the night. Friday morning before they took off for Christchurch, we took them, and a single lady from our church, who also slept here overnight in her van, to Gore Bay. We really enjoyed our chance to get to know Tas.
I’ve been busy living life, not blogging it. So, here’s a collection of pictures from the past few weeks.
There! I got them posted. I had to take the pictures out and put them back in several times because they weren’t cooperating the way I wanted! (And my daughter laughed at my struggles! And, enjoy the new header–she spent several days making it.)
Here’s a short video we took of the dolphins we saw from the Whale Watch boat Friday. This was so much fun to see!
We were given a trip on Whale Watch this week. They asked that, in return, we spend some time doing a beach clean up. Last week, we had a day that was so lovely and warm that we decided we would do it then, at Gore Bay. We split up into two groups; three of the boys went one way and the rest of us went the other way. I told them to start back after half an hour and we would meet up near the start. It is amazing, and disgusting, what you find on the beach! Why don’t people pick up after themselves? Most of what we found had been thrown under the bushes at the edge; there were a lot of beer bottles. Yuck! We also found an old tire and some lumber, but the most unusual find was the huge wad of frayed rope that the boys found!
After our time cleaning up (and deciding we should do it again in a few weeks), I let the boys play on their “raft” again for awhile. They sure are having fun poling that around the lagoon!
And then, the camera got dipped into the water, so we had to buy a new one in order to take pictures when we went on Whale Watch!
The children and I had the privilege yesterday to take a tour with Whale Watch. There is no way we could afford the tickets normally, but we happen to know a lady who works there. She sent me a note recently, saying that they were taking the Year 4 classes from Kaikoura on a tour, which they do annually, and had extra space. She thought of us, since she knows we homeschool, and asked if we’d like to go. Would we! You should have heard the excitement here! The two youngest were not able to go, but a dear friend in Kaikoura offered to keep them for me so I could go along.
Thursday morning was the day of the tour. We got up early and ate our breakfast on the way to Kaikoura (a one-hour trip) as we watched the sun rise over the hills and enjoyed the snow on the mountains. When we got down to the coast, we noticed high waves. We dropped off the little boys and went to the Whaleway Station–to be met with the news that sailing had been canceled for the day due to the high waves! What a disappointment. So, we picked up the little boys again, went to a secondhand shop, and came home to do school.
The trip had been rescheduled for Friday, so yesterday morning we got up early again, again ate our breakfast while we enjoyed the early morning beauty, and again dropped off the little boys. The waves were still high, but not as high as the previous morning, so we got to go on our tour.
We were informed, soon after we got underway, that a whale had been spotted not too far away. He had just sounded (gone under) and would surface to breathe again in about 40 minutes. The primary whale in Kaikoura waters, by the way, is adolescent male sperm whales. They like the deep water in the trench that comes close in to land here. They can dive 3 km deep, and stay down for about 40 minutes at a time. While we waited for that whale to come back up, we went to Goose Bay, where the continental shelf comes within 500 meters of the shore for a special treat: a pod of dolphins was feeding there! Normally, in the winter, the dolphins are in the Marlborough Sounds, so they would not usually be seen on a Whale Watch tour right now. There were probably around 200 Dusky Dolphins, and we got to be right in the middle of the pod for 15-20 minutes! That was fascinating! They leaped out of the water, spun in a half circle, and fell back in with a splash. They frequently slapped the water with their tail, scaring fish so they could feed on them. I was intrigued to see that they often swam in pairs, two dolphins side-by-side. We’ve seen them often from the highway, but it’s much better out at sea, right in among them.
Soon it was time to head over to see the whale. We all went back in the cabin and sat down. As we were traveling, I happened to see, out the window, a spout off to our right! After I saw it a second time, I started pointing it out to people around me, and after the third we were able to catch the attention of the Whale Watch crew–they hadn’t seen it! They immediately altered course and went that direction, but just as we got there the whale sounded. So, we turned and went back toward the other one–but as we got there that one sounded, as well! What a disappointment. So, we slowly moved around, searching for another whale, and they turned the engines off at one point so they could listen with the hydrophone to try to locate a whale. After awhile they did find one, and we got to watch it breathe on the surface for several minutes. Then, the whale waved his tail at us and was gone. What a special experience!
After we picked up the little boys and visited for a while with our friend, we headed for home. We stopped along the coast on our way home and had a picnic, and explored the rocks for awhile–it was too beautiful a day to just go home immediately!